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Old 11-25-2007, 09:10 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book
By Joe Starkey
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, November 25, 2007


The tendency has always been to cast Steelers receiver Hines Ward as a chronic overachiever.
Which is kind of funny, when you think about it.

Pathological tenacity might be Ward's greatest attribute, but he was a good enough athlete to play quarterback, receiver and running back at Georgia and rack up more all-purpose yards (3,870) than anybody in the history of that program not named Herschel Walker.

At six feet, Ward's no giant, but he's an inch taller than Lynn Swann.


story continues below



He's not Steve Smith-fast, but he's no slow poke, either.
Jim Donnan, who coached Ward at Georgia, remembers Ward's daily practice battles against a gifted cornerback named Champ Bailey - and recalls Ward not giving up much athletically, save for some straight-line speed.

Ten years of NFL violence have taken a toll on Ward's body, obviously, and eroded some of his natural skills, but Donnan still chuckles at the perception of Ward as an overachiever.

"He's a tremendous athlete - and I mean a top-1-percent athlete," said Donnan, who was Georgia's coach from 1996-2000 and now works for espn.com as a college football analyst. "In space, he can make you miss, outrun you or run you over. I think people sometimes believe, because he doesn't have the one quality of overwhelming, blazing speed, that he isn't a great athlete.

"Now, the one thing you want to talk about when you talk about overachieving or underachieving and all that is, did you play up to your potential?

"This guy maxed out."

For proof, pick up a Steelers' record book.

Ward seemingly breaks another team record every time he touches the ball. The next to go will either be career receiving yardage or touchdown catches. Ward is 289 yards and one touchdown behind Hall of Famer John Stallworth (8,723, 63) in those categories.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Steelers' all-time touchdown reception leaders:

John Stallworth 63
Hines Ward 62
Lynn Swann 51
Buddy Dial 42
Louis Lipps 39





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ward, 31, recently took time to reflect on a career that still has plenty of life. Already the possessor of the team's career receptions mark, he vividly recalls his first touchdown catch.

It covered all of 1 yard late in a 43-0 blowout of the Cleveland Browns in the 1999 home opener, his second season.

"Mike Tomczak threw a fade pattern," Ward said. "I was just ecstatic. I'd been close to catching one in my rookie year. I had one, but the turf in Three Rivers was real tough - straight concrete -- and the ball bounced out."

If knock-down hits were an official stat, Ward would have that record, too. Teammates marvel at his ferocity. It's not normal. Cornerback Ike Taylor said he doesn't see anything like it when he's watching film of opposing receivers.

"Hines always tells us he's trying to knock somebody's soul out of their body," Taylor said. "I don't think other guys say that."

Ward laughed when he was asked which hit, of the many he has dispensed, he would rate "the best."

"There's been some," he said. "I got Rod Woodson one time when we played at Baltimore. He didn't particularly like that. But the one on (Ravens safety) Ed Reed (three weeks ago) would probably have to be my best, because we went head-up, and he went down instantly."

Ward felt a pang of fear upon delivering the blow.

"I was really concerned for him," he said. "Right when I hit him, his arm went limp, and I called for the trainers. I've knocked guys out before, but never like that, where their arm went limp. I was scared for him."

Reed returned to the game. Ward wasn't finished. He later leveled Ravens linebacker Bart Scott, who bounced up and threatened bodily harm.

Ward laughed at Scott - but don't get the wrong idea about all this laughing. The man might play with a perpetual smile plastered to his face, but a bellyful of resentment boils down below.

Ward barged into the league with a chip on his shoulder pads. Hundreds of hellacious collisions have done nothing to displace it.

Or even budge it.

He's still ticked off that he was passed over 91 times in the 1998 NFL Draft and that the Steelers kept trying to replace him even after he'd begun to establish himself.

"If do get this (touchdown) record, there's nothing anybody can say about, 'He's not fast enough, he's not this, he's not that,' " Ward said. "Nothing was ever given to me. This record is solely from me just working my tail off to get to where I'm at, playing with six different quarterbacks, all the coordinators. I've seen receivers come and go. That's what this record really means to me - all the hard work and all the belief I had in myself, and the ability, and wanting to prove myself.

"I'm not saying I'm the best, but I'm not the sorriest, either. I'm a pretty good wide receiver in the NFL."

For proof, pick up the Steelers' record book.
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:31 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

Make no mistake about it...in 20 years you will see the stands packed with Hines Ward retro jerseys!!!
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Old 11-25-2007, 09:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

I think it's neat that whenever he scores a touchdown he tries to give the ball to a kid/someone who's wearing his jersey. :)
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:09 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

Quote:
"I'm not saying I'm the best, but I'm not the sorriest, either. I'm a pretty good wide receiver in the NFL."
I'd say he's pretty darn good! Thanks for sticking with the Steelers, Hines!
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

it would be nice for him to get that record on monday night.. if not he still has sunday night next week to break it.
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

Quote:
Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth View Post
Make no mistake about it...in 20 years you will see the stands packed with Hines Ward retro jerseys!!!
and open the record books seeing his name on top of each one of them.
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Old 11-25-2007, 11:43 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' Ward continues assault on record book

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Originally Posted by jjpro11 View Post
it would be nice for him to get that record on monday night.. if not he still has sunday night next week to break it.
breaking it against the bungles, that would be awesome
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